Acute and chronic effects of the synthetic neuroactive steroid, ganaxolone, against the convulsive and lethal effects of pentylenetetrazol in seizure-kindled mice: comparison with diazepam and valproate

Neuropharmacology. 2000 Apr 27;39(7):1184-96. doi: 10.1016/s0028-3908(99)00190-2.


A high-affinity positive modulator of the GABA(A) receptor complex, ganaxolone, is a 3beta-methylated analog of the naturally occurring neuroactive steroid allopregnanolone. In the present study, ganaxolone was tested for its ability to (1) suppress seizures (clonic and tonic) and lethality induced by pentylenetetrazol (PTZ) in PTZ-kindled mice (anticonvulsive effect) and (2) to attenuate the development of sensitization to the convulsive and lethal effects of PTZ in kindled mice (anti-epileptogenic effect) when given as a pretreatment prior to each PTZ injection during kindling acquisition. Two classical antiepileptic drugs, diazepam and valproate, were tested for comparison. All three drugs dose-dependently suppressed tonic seizures and lethality induced by PTZ in kindled mice; only ganaxolone was effective against clonic seizures. Ganaxolone showed anti-epileptogenic properties as it reduced the sensitivity of kindled mice to the convulsive (clonic and tonic seizures) and lethal effects of PTZ. Diazepam showed anti-epileptogenic effects against tonic seizures and lethality, but not clonic seizures; valproate was ineffective in preventing development of any of these effects. Sensitivity to PTZ-induced seizures and lethality was not affected in mice with a history of repeated treatment with ganaxolone, diazepam, or valproate. The drugs had effects on ambulatory activity that ranged from no effect (ganaxolone) through moderate impairment (diazepam) to marked disruption (valproate). Taken together, the results of the present study add to accumulating evidence of the unique anticonvulsive/behavioral profile of neuroactive steroids.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anticonvulsants / pharmacology*
  • Convulsants / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Convulsants / toxicity
  • Diazepam / pharmacology*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Kindling, Neurologic / drug effects
  • Kindling, Neurologic / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Motor Activity / drug effects
  • Pentylenetetrazole / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Pentylenetetrazole / toxicity
  • Pregnanolone / analogs & derivatives*
  • Pregnanolone / pharmacology
  • Seizures / mortality
  • Seizures / prevention & control*
  • Stereotypic Movement Disorder / chemically induced
  • Valproic Acid / pharmacology*


  • Anticonvulsants
  • Convulsants
  • Valproic Acid
  • ganaxolone
  • Pregnanolone
  • Diazepam
  • Pentylenetetrazole